Be it fund selection, administrative tasks, due diligence, marketing, or client communication, your firm likely runs on a digital platform – and it will continue to do so for many years to come.
Being able to boost your firm’s visibility is a huge advantage of the digital age. With the right level of forethought and investment, your firm may be able to reach and attract prospects more easily than before.
Nevertheless, while marketing your firm online is a great way to gain new leads, there is one aspect of this strategy that could have a big impact on your success: reviews.
Read on to discover the importance of gaining organic online reviews to better your firm’s “social proof”, and how to handle any negativity that comes your way.
Online reviews make all the difference to consumer confidence, according to the latest data
When prospective clients open Google to search for advice firms in their area, they’ll find that most businesses promise similar outcomes: expert financial planning that can help them grow their wealth.
So, aside from an attractive website and an impressive list of services, what makes a financial planning firm stand out?
Well, according to data published by Search Engine Journal, consumers often rely almost entirely on online reviews when approaching businesses.
The data reveals that:
- More than 99% of consumers read reviews when they shop online
- 96% of consumers look for negative reviews specifically
- 49% of consumers trust online reviews just as much as recommendations from friends and family
- 60% of consumers value the number of reviews a business has, as well as the quality.
Plus, when you consider financial services more specifically, 2023 research proves that many consumers still have an ongoing distrust in financial advisers.
According to an FCA study, published by MoneyAge, fewer than half of UK adults have confidence in the financial services sector, with “vulnerable members of society” likely to struggle the most in this area. The research, which involved almost 20,000 participants, found that only 36% of people think that “most financial firms are honest and transparent in the way they treat them”.
Combine these pieces of data, and you’ll realise that having a bank of positive reviews could set your firm apart from its competitors. Quite simply, without this type of social proof, potential clients might look elsewhere.
4 easy ways to obtain and manage a healthy selection of online reviews
1. Ask, and you shall receive
Imagine you’re sitting in a meeting with a client you know well. Things are going smoothly: you’ve completed their annual review and assured them that they’re on track to meet their goals this year.
Before they stand up to leave, there’s nothing wrong with asking them a small favour: “if you have time, do you think you could write us an online review?”
If you’re taking this approach, give clear instructions: name the review site (Google, your own website, VouchedFor, or similar) and don’t apply too much pressure.
Then, in your follow-up email, pop a link at the bottom and thank them in advance for their time.
This might seem like an old-school strategy, but at the end of the day, you might need to ask nicely to get the ball rolling. Not all clients will take you up on this request, but there’s no harm in nudging people in the right direction.
2. Encourage reviews on social media
If you’re regularly using Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn to communicate with clients, why not mention your review page?
Semi-regular calls for reviews shouldn’t be taken as pushy by existing clients, and might give them the ideal opportunity to voice their experiences.
3. Respond promptly and politely to all comments (especially the negative ones)
Once you begin to see reviews come through, you might be saddened to see that they aren’t all glowing. This happens even to top-class firms – you can’t keep everyone happy 100% of the time.
Unfortunately, your overall score on many review websites will be affected by one or two negative posts. If most scores are four and five stars, but you have a couple of one- or two-star reviews thrown into the mix, the lower ones could bring down your median score.
One way to soothe disgruntled clients, even if you don’t believe your firm is at fault, is to respond. It might seem counterintuitive to say “thank you” to someone who has posted something negative, but by opening up the conversation about what went wrong, you improve your chances of solving the issue.
Engaging in helpful dialogue may not only prompt them to delete the review, but those perusing your page might see that even in the face of negativity, your firm is always there to make things right.
4. Monitor review pages for spam
In the age of increasingly convincing AI, many review pages are being spammed by fake testimonials that are often written by bots. According to the Guardian, Tripadvisor marked 1.3 million reviews as fake in 2022 alone, and Trustpilot removed 2.7 million false reviews in 2021.
If prospective clients spot AI-written (or otherwise clearly false) testimonials on your website or another review site, they could believe that you’ve bought these reviews to generate more custom.
As a result, it’s essential to continually monitor review pages for spam and AI, ensuring you have these taken down as soon as they appear.
That way, reviews of your firm will be as they should: written by real clients who actually know you and your business.
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This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice.